Panama Arias notes among highlights at Stack’s Bowers sale
- Published: May 22, 2022, 8 AM
Stack’s Bowers Galleries will offer a full set of the “highly desirable and legendary” 1941 Panama Arias series of bank notes in its June 23 Collectors Choice Online Auction of world paper money.
The short-lived series consists of 1-, 5-, 10-, and 20-balboa notes, and as the firm points out, particularly after the pandemic began, the notes have, individually, realized historic prices. A number of high-graded examples have sold for well into the five figures.
The four notes are all graded in the Very Fine range with some showing minor rust stains, yet according to the catalog descriptions, the notes maintain their eye appeal. The 1-, 5- and 20-balboa notes each are graded VF-25 by Paper Money Guaranty, while the 10-balboa note is graded VF-20.
The highlight of the group is the 20-balboa note with a very low serial number of 59.
A press release about the notes indicates that this will likely be among the more affordable sets offered together, considering that no ultra high grade pieces are included. Nonetheless, given the state of the market, they are expected to bring far more than similarly graded examples have in the past.
Aris Maragoudakis, director of world paper for Stack’s Bowers Galleries, said: “This historic set has been on countless client lists since my tenure at Stack’s Bowers Galleries began in 2015. Even though we have sold a few since the pandemic began, I haven’t even made it halfway through that list. The demand for these Arias issues is probably greater today than it was during the drought in the late 2010s.”
The desirability of the set can be directly attributed to its very short-lived release into circulation. As more and more collectors enter the market and learn the history of the set, it is likely that strong demand will continue, according to experts.
In brief, the notes were printed by the Hamilton Bank Note Company of New York and are named for President Arnulfo Arias, who was responsible for a law that authorized official and private banks to circulate paper money. The only bank to do so was the Banco Central Emision de la Republica de Panama, which was authorized to circulate up to 6 million balboas in bank note form. On Oct. 2, 1941, slightly under half that amount was released.
Their time in circulation was about a week. Arias was overthrown, and Ricardo Adolfo de la Guardia Arango become president with the help of the United States. The new regime immediately closed the bank, withdrew the notes from circulation, and destroyed what was left. Very few notes remain today.
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